Officials question widening of road

The city zoning inspector answered a resident's complaints.
& lt;a & gt;By TIM YOVICH & lt;/a & gt;
GIRARD -- Councilmen Joseph Christopher and John Moliterno, both D-at-large, are questioning the wisdom of a $10 million project to widen U.S. 422 through the city.
Their comments came after Service Director Jerry Lambert announced to council Monday that construction has started.
Christopher said that after the state Route 711 connector is complete, traffic along Route 422, (State Street), will be reduced by 40 percent.
Moliterno questioned the thinking of state traffic engineers because both projects have long been planned. After the meeting, Christopher said when Route 711 is completed, Route 422 only needs new curbing and resurfacing.
When the widening project was funded, the city decided to put the utilities along the road underground.
It's this project that the city spent $2.25 million to complete and part of the reason the city is under a fiscal emergency, according to the state auditor's office.
Lambert said that when the widening project is complete, the state plans to remove the traffic signals along State at Prospect streets and Wilson and Smithsonian avenues.
Christopher said the state had a similar plan in 1991. He objected at that time because the signals were installed to make traffic safer for city residents.
Zoning complaint
Meanwhile, resident John Bevilacqua of Washington Avenue complained the city administration wasn't enforcing zoning regulations.
He said one neighbor was allowed to pave his back yard and curb lawn and another to violate two variance requirements when building.
Rex Funge, zoning inspector and assistant city engineer, said the city doesn't have restrictions against paving a yard or curb lawn because that's where they park.
Funge acknowledged he was wrong in issuing a permit in the other instance, but law director Mark Standohar noted cities can't be held responsible if an error is made in "good faith."
Housing program
In another matter, council approved legislation authorizing the mayor to make application to the Ohio Department of Development to fund the city's Community Housing Improvement Program.
The city is expected to receive $550,000 this year to help those who qualify for assistance based on income.
Moliterno said there will be a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in council chambers to explain the program.
Although Christopher voted for the legislation to make the application, he objected to the earmarking of $100,000 to upgrade rental properties.
Christopher said he believes that since tenants can make application for funds, it will benefit landlords who live outside the city.
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